Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fonds français 110

la roumans del lancelot del lac (title in the explicit)

General information

Folio notes:Incomplete at the beginning. Folios wanting after ff. 419, 429 and 455.
LanguageLanguage object (44)
Approx. datec. 1295
Date notesDate suggested by the Lancelot-Graal project.
Place(s) of productionNorthern France
The Lancelot-Graal project, Arthurian Fiction and Jonas agree on the bishopric of Thérouanne or Cambrai. Stones 2013, 69-70 suggests Saint-Omer and Cambrai.
First words of second recto folio[incomplete at the beginning]
First words of last recto folio[f. 457ra] ch(eualie)r dun suel escuier
IncipitIllegible due to damage
Explicit[f. 457rb] Si se taiste / ore maistre Gautiers map / de lestoi / re de lanceloth del lac. Car b(ie)n i a / tout mene a fin Se sont les cosez/ qui en a uindrent Et define ensi son liure si outreement . Que a /pres che . nen porroit nus racon / ter chose ; quil ne ment // Explicit de la mort le roi artu // EXPLICIT CI FINE LA ROU / MANS DEL LANCELOT DEL LAC //

Related MS

RelationshipType object (14)Manuscript object (190)
Manuscript object (393)

RelationshipType object (5)Manuscript object (190)
Manuscript object (427)


Material:Material object (4)
Condition:A fine manuscript, which has sustained considerable damage. Folios lost at the beginning; the present f. 1 is mutilated, corners have been torn (e.g. ff. 146, 158), the lower margins have been pillaged for parchment (e.g. ff. 3-11,134), pages are worn and the text has faded. ff. 454 to 457 have been mutilated. The vellum is generally of good to medium quality, some folios are more rigid. Some stitches (ff. 248, 415) and holes (ff. 254, 444).



Original collation: 1-1112 121 13-1612 176 18-228 23-4312 444

Quire structure:The 'Estoire' and 'Merlin' are built of regular sexternions. The first gathering is incomplete, 10 ff. were probably lost at the beginning of the MS. Folio 109 is a singleton. The final quire of the 'Suite du Merlin' is a ternion. The first five quires of the 'Prose Lancelot' are quaternions. The rest of the quires, also in the 'Queste' and 'Mort', are sexternions, except for the last quire which is a binion. The outer folios of quire 41 are wanting (after ff. 419, 429). An additional folio is missing after f. 455. The sequence of quire marks reboots after the 'Suite du Merlin'.
Quire marks:MSQuiremarkDisposition object (16)
MSQuiremarkDisposition object (17)
Catchword disposition:MSCatchwordDisposition object (10)

Physical description

No. of illustrations:99
General illustration:The frontispiece of the MS has been lost. The 'Merlin' opens with a single-column miniature (height: 8 lines) showing the harrowing of hell (f. 45v). Similar miniatures at the beginning of the 'Suite du Merlin' (f. 67r) portraying the coronation of Arthur' and the 'Mort' (f. 441r) with the return of Bohort. The illustration introducing the 'Lancelot' (f. 164r) and the 'Queste' (f. 405r) are more elaborate. The central part of the cycle opens with three large miniatures, one at the top of each column, with episodes from Lancelot's childhood, including the siege of Benoïc and Lancelot being exposed by his mother. The images are painted against gilt grounds in architectural frames with gothic arches and turrets. At the beginning of the text is a foliate initial (height: 7 lines) in stead of the more common and smaller champ initials elsewhere in the text. The initial grows into a partial border of blue and pink bars, decorated with goldleaf, supporting animal and human figures as well as hybrids. The 'Queste' is similarly introduced by two images at the top of the first and second column, with episodes from Galahad's career as one of Arthur's knights. These images are framed in regular borders and preceded by captions in red ink. The text is further illustrated with single-column miniatures (height: 8-12 lines) against gilt backgrounds, painted in broad frames of blue and red bars, with orange corners and decorated with geometric patterns. Figures have curly hairdos, the folds of their clothing are traced in black ink. Their gestures are expressive and the posture is straight. The principal colours used are orange, green and blue. Some directions for the artist survive (e.g. ff. 57r., 417v.). It is clear that these have also been the main inspirations for the rubricated captions preceding the illustrations., e.g. the rubric on f. 405r. 'En ceste ystoire doit auoir paint .i. perron de marbre (etc.)'.
General decoration:Champ initials (height: 4 lines) at the beginning of chapters (at 'li contes' junctions). The letters are gilt against blue and scarlet fields, the eye of the letter painted in the other colour, with white decorative flourishings. These initials grow into decorative J-borders, in blue and red, spanning the height of the column, except when the letter follows an illustration. These champ initials grow larger (height: 8 lines) after f. 165 but return to their original size at f. 180. Pen-decorated initials (height: 2 lines), anternatingly blue or red, with flourishings in the other colour at paragraphs. No line-fillers.
Evidence of readership:On f. 2r, in the upper margin, old shelfmarks '112' ,'6782' and 'cent nonante neuf'. On f. 101v, in the lower margin: three large letters 'a'. On f. 142, in the lower margin: drawing of a branch with a leaf in red ink. On f. 150v, above col. a in a cursive/ hybrida hand: 'dame sans per' / 'a Prigent '. On f. 189v. above col. c. in a cursive hand, 'de lestad de ch(eva)l(e)rie'. This is the portion of text in which the Lady of the Lake teaches Lancelot about chivalry. On f. 247v. in the upper margin 'Prigent de Coectiv'. Same annotation on f. 294v. On f. 357v, drawing of a dead owl in the left margin. On f. 455v, in a cursive hand, 'ici fault un feul ou deux'. (Partially) erased marginalia on ff. 151r, 171r, 247r, 311r ('Pour moye henry de pa?u?/Pour moye jehen(ne)), 322r, 338r (pour moy car je le [d ]ie), 453v, 454r, 454v, 455r, 457r.
Foliations description:As from f. 15, modern foliation in arabic numerals in the upper right corner of the recto. ff. 1-14, roman numerals in the same position. Two, later foliations (14th-or 15th c.) in a cursive hand, both on the recto, in roman numerals. The first is placed above col. c. (skips f. 145), the second in the lower margin, between cols. b and c (stops at f. 100).

Mise en page

Description 1Prickings visible in the inner and outer margins (e.g. f. 164r).
Page sampledf. 127r
LayoutMSLayout object (3)
Page dimensions465x340 (mm)
Justification350x233 (mm)
6.5mm between columns
Column ruling present in Colours object (4) (RulingMaterials object (3) )
Line ruling present in Colours object (4) (RulingMaterials object (3) )
RubricationCaptions in red ink precede the miniatures. These captions are inspired by the instructions for the artist left in the margins.
Writing above top line?False
Sample page layout:


Level of Execution:Execution object (4)
ScriptScript object (4)
Folio rangeFrom f. 1ra to f. 457rb
Date1275 to 1300
Scribe description:Northern textualis rotundus with a two-compartment 'a' with closed upper compartment, uncial 'd', diacritic on 'i', exclusive use of long 's' in final position. Word-division marked with dash.
NotesPossibly change of scribe after f. 108. No more marking of word separation, less frequent diacritics on the 'i'.


DescriptionOwner's marks 'A Prigent' and 'Prigent de Coectiuy' on ff. 150v, 247v. and 249v. His motto 'dame sans per' on f. 150v. Prigent de Coëtivy (born c. 1399) was Admiral of France from 1439 up to his death at the siege of Cherbourg in 1450. A list of his books, plausibly drawn up c. 1444, mentions 'Les histoires de Josephe et de Merlin', a 'Livre de Tristan', a 'Livre de Lancelot' and a 'Livre de Guyron de Courtois'. The same titles occur in financial records dated to 1444 in which Jean Hancelin, 'enlumineur', is reported to have given three romances (a 'Lancelot', a 'Tristan' and a 'Guiron') to Robert Compains and was paid 90 francs, 17 sous 6 deniers for these books. It has been previously assumed that these were newly illustrated books. Three 15th.-c MSS illustrated by the so-called Dunois Master have been put forward as the Arthurian volumes mentioned in Coëtivy's bookkeeping records. However, none of these have his name or motto. Given that the 'Tristan', BL Royal MS 20 D II, with Prigent's name, is also a late 13th- or early 14th-c. MS, the transaction of 1444 may reference a second-hand booksale.
Datec. 1440
PlacePlace object (217)
OwnershipPerson object (21)